1st and 10 Week 24

1st and 10 Week 24 by Utter-Fantasy Football Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

“1st and 10″ is a weekly segment by Utter-Fantasy.com, getting fantasy football insights from a knowledgeable person in the fantastic fantasy football community. With 10 questions each week, we will canvass some of the hot button topics to keep us all informed on the ever-changing NFL landscape and which ones might carry major fantasy football implications.

Every Monday, at approximately 12:00 Noon Central, I will post the latest segment of “1st & 10.”  If you enjoy it, let us know. If you have any fantasy football questions, really let us know.

 

1st and 10 Week 24-  August 29th, 2016

“1st and 10″ Week 24 -Special Guest Writer: Jonathan Bray…Co-Owner of Fantasyipa.com.

Special thanks to Jonathan – Be sure to follow him on Twitter @FIPA_Bray

 

Utter-Fantasy #1) The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs 5 years in a row, but like last year (lost to Pittsburgh 18-16 in 1st round), they never go far. If the Bengals were in a different division, (let’s say they swap places with Buffalo in the AFC East), would they have gone to the playoffs 5 years in a row?

FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: I believe they would.  I have always viewed the AFC Central as one of, if not THE toughest division in the NFL (excluding the Browns of course).  The Bengals record against non-divisional foes each of the last 3 years?  7-3, 7-2-1, 8-2, 7-3, 7-3.  That is a team that consistently wins, regardless of the competition.  As far as why they perpetually lose in the playoffs so quickly…. perhaps the season simply wears them down, or Andy Dalton truly has head games going on.  I’m not sure, but the odds are bound to turn in their favor eventually.  Right??

 

Utter-Fantasy #2) After watching the Houston Texans the past two preseason games, QB Brock Osweiler is developing real chemistry, not just with DeAndre Hopkins, but with rookie Will Fuller (4-of-8 targets for 73 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s preseason game) and with rookie WR Braxton Miller as well. Based on this, could DeAndre Hopkins WR ADP (4) be too high now?

FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: I do feel that Hopkins is being drafted a touch too high in 2016.  I of course like the big three along with everyone else (Antonio Brown, Julio and ODBJ) but I also have AJ Green and Dez above Hopkins for the upcoming season.  Therefore, still think of Hopkins as a first rounder, but more towards the end of the round based on a few factors:  (1) the aforementioned better WR talent around him which should reduce DeAndre’s ridiculous 192 target total from 2015, (2) Lamar Miller being a much better running option than the Alfred Blue/Jonathan Grimes combo for most of 2015 which could further reduce target volume, and finally (3) I believe Osweiler still has some growing pains to work through and the bell will eventually toll for Hopkins consistently receiving subpar QB play in Houston.

 

Utter-Fantasy #3) Does it concern you, and effect how you draft, when certain players have not played in the preseason, such as IND F Gore, QB Aaron Rodgers, MINN RB Adrian Peterson or PITT QB Roethlisberger to name a few?

FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: Truthfully, I think it depends on the experience level of the individual and the nature of their situation, such as, are they coming back from injury like Jamal Charles or Thomas Rawls or Julian Edelman.   In those cases, I prefer to see them take a couple hits and show some burst in game action to ease my fears about drafting them at ADP.  By and large for the list of guys you mention here, I think these veterans know how to prepare their bodies and minds for the rigors of an NFL season, and timing is really the main thing being sacrificed by not participating in the preseason.

 

Utter-Fantasy #4) Based on their team’s roster of talent, which NFL team “should” have been more successful in the regular season over the past couple years, and how will they fare in 2016?

FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: That is a really great question, and the team that resounds in my mind is the Miami Dolphins.  Whether it is the underwhelming development of Ryan Tannehill, the porous and disappointing defensive line, or simply the bad coaching of Joe Philbin and staff, a lot has been left on the table it feels in terms of wins and losses the past two seasons.  How a team goes a collective 14-18 in 2014/2015 while featuring such top 10-15 positional talents as RB Lamar Miller, WR Jarvis Landry, OL Mike Pouncy, DT Ndamukong Su, S Reshad Jones, DE Olivier Vernon, and LB Jelani Jenkins…. I’ll never know.  Let’s see if the Adam Gase era can help this franchise achieve it’s potential!

 

Utter-Fantasy #5) Does QB Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons have enough weapons to really compete in the NFC South, especially when you compare how many weapons QB Drew Brees has in New Orleans?

FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: I think so, but I should probably disclaim that I am a Falcons fan (second only to the Cowboys).  That being said, I would take the combination of Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman over Brandin Cooks and Mark Ingram in terms of each QB’s primary weapons, and really the same could be said when compared to the Buccaneer and Panther talent as well.  Of course the depth of Brees’ teammates is pretty extensive with Willie Snead, Michael Thomas, Colby Fleener and CJ Spiller (if healthy and knowledgeable of the playbook in 2016 that is).  I believe for Atlanta to compete in the NFC South this season, they need to (1) have guys like Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper come in and contribute early in the season to take attention away from Julio, (2) see some development from Tevin Coleman in terms of his vision and ability to read blocks and (3) see the defense take another step forward in 2016 like they did in 2015 moving to the middle of the pack in most metrics.  I think the biggest thing hurting Atlanta right now is Matt Ryan himself, as he seems to have regressed in the past two seasons and I would now rate him #4 easily among the NFC QB group.

 

Utter-Fantasy #6) Can you name a few players that you have “flip-flopped” on in the past month (players who you thought would have a big season, and now you have reservations about, and vice versa)?

FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: Certainly, I will give you two of each real quickly. In terms of positive flips, I would point to Dez Bryant first.  Coming off a very subpar season that saw him struggle with both injury and lack of focus, it concerned me immensely at the opening of camp when he was fighting teammates and dropping passes again.  However, he has shown up in full during his preseason action and all of this without Romo so I do not feel that the injury to Romo will much affect his fantasy outlook… Rookie Dak Prescott certainly looks the part 3 games in and has a nice rapport going with Dez.  A second positive flip flop would have to be RB Devonta Freeman.  He slowed down at the end of the 2015 season after an amazing first 9 weeks, and the assumption was that Tevin Coleman would likely gain more of the market share of the Falcon RB snaps in 2016.  However, after watching the two RBs thus far in the preseason, it is clear who the “much more developed runner/receiver is” in this offense and I no longer think Freeman comes off the field more than say 20% of the snaps this season. After outpacing all other NFL backs in PPR format by more than 50 points in 2015, I now have Freeman ranked as RB #3 going into the season.

On the negative side of the flip flop, I think I would point to Matt Forte and Kelvin Benjamin.  I loved the Forte move to the running back friendly Jet offense initially, but the closer we get to the season, the more I see a 50-50 split of the snaps with 5-year Jet vet Bilal Powell.  Similar to Forte, Powell is a well-rounded back with equal aplomb at running between the tackles as catching passes from the backfield.  Where Powell has advantages that I can no longer look past, are his familiarity with the offense combined with his health.   Forte has had trouble staying on the field this preseason and while a veteran that does not need a lot of reps, this is still a notably different offense than what he is familiar with from Chicago.  I now have Forte dropped to the #15 RB in my PPR ranks after being just inside the top 10 a few weeks ago. Kelvin Benjamin to me is the most grossly over-ranked WR out there this preseason.  Without digging in fully, I initially had Benjamin ranked where most others do, around WR25-WR30.  Upon further reflection however, I see the following in Benjamin: (1) still not quite 100% from ACL injury, (2) regressed as his rookie year wore on in 2014, (3) inefficient, volume dependent production as rookie, and (4) at risk to losing volume due to emergence of Teddy Ginn and Devin Funchess.  There are significant red flags when looked at collectively, for an early 4th round fantasy selection.  I’ll pass.

 

Utter-Fantasy #7) Please give me one or two bold predictions for the upcoming NFL season, that the fantasy football owners reading this will say “You have got to be kidding!”

FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: This is a fun one, just don’t hold me to it if these don’t work out just right though!  Bold prediction #1 – Frank Gore ends up in the top 10 fantasy running backs in PPR format.  Bold prediction #2 – the Oakland Raiders will defeat both the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos on their way to a long awaited Super Bowl appearance… I deleted and retyped this one twice before leaving it here, haha.

 

Utter-Fantasy #8) A lot has happened since the 2016 NFL Draft, when the top 8 wide receivers selected went 1) Corey Coleman, 2) Will Fuller, 3) Josh Doctson, 4) Laquon Treadwell, 5) Sterling Shepard, 6) Michael Thomas, 7) Tyler Boyd and 8) Braxton Miller. Based on what you’ve seen so far, rank how you now see these 8 WRs ending the 2016 NFL season (barring any huge injuries).

FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: Agree, a lot has in fact happened.  I would rank as follows now:  1) Corey Coleman, 2) Sterling Shepard, 3) Josh Doctson, 4) Michael Thomas, 5) Will Fuller, 6) Laquon Treadwell, 7) Tyler Boyd and 8) Braxton Miller.  The Treadwell lack of positive news is alarming in a run first offense at this stage, I believe he is 5th on the depth chart.  I love Boyd’s opportunity, but I think his talent is fairly marginal and will depend too much on volume to ever have big games.

 

Utter-Fantasy #9) In 2014, Blake Bortles was the #21 QB for the season. Unexpectedly, he ended 2015 as the #3 QB. In this pass-friendly NFL league, name a couple of quarterbacks you see that could jump into the top 5, they aren’t expected to, and who would they be pushing out?

FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: For 2016, I could certainly see a Bortles type repeat for either Ryan Tannehill or Tyrod Taylor, who finished 16th and 17th in 2015 QB fantasy ranks.  I believe Tannehill can make that long awaited jump if the Adam Gase offense kicks in timely enough, as he may have one of the deeper sets of receiving talents in the NFL with Jarvis Landry, Devonte Parker, Kenny Stills and rookies Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant.  Tyrod Taylor is a wild card coming into his second season as a starter within a run first offense.  He will certainly get his own yards on the ground, and with the release of Karlos Williams, it would not surprise me if the Bills are forced to throw more in 2016 with very little on the depth chart behind starting running back LeSean McCoy.

 

Utter-Fantasy #10) What are your thoughts on PHIL RB Kenjon Barner, CLEV WR WR Terrelle Pryor, DAL QB Dak Prescott and SF TE Vance McDonald, who have all been stand outs in this preseason?

FantasyIPA’s Jonathan Bray: I think Barner is not as much of a fit in the new Philly offense under coordinator Frank Reich as he supposedly was in Chip Kelly’s offense.  So while he might be having a good preseason, I just don’t think he gets past Ryan Matthews or Darren Sproles on the depth chart this season without an injury taking place.

Pryor has shown great speed and ball tracking ability this preseason with a couple of the biggest plays across the league.  With a wide open WR depth chart behind Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon, I believe Pryor has an unmatched size-speed combo amongst the Cleveland receivers that coach Hugh Jackson would be wise to make use of regularly.

Sadly, as I type this, it is announced that Cowboy QB Tony Romo has a break in his back that will force him to miss the first half of the regular season.  Dak Prescott has suddenly played himself into a starting QB role just 4 months after being selected as the 8th QB off the board (4th round) in the NFL draft.  The fact he is getting a shot even before Jared Goff, Carson Wentz or Paxton Lynch is a complete shock to me but Prescott has shown a solid grasp of the offense from day 1, and remains calm under pressure while also showing that he can be a dual threat when the situation calls for it.  I do think he is likely to regress once he is hit hard a few times by 1st team rush ends, or he feels the need to press because the Cowboy defense shows little ability to keep opposing offenses out of the end zone regularly.  However, the future does look very bright for Dak!

Finally, Vance McDonald is certainly showing that he could win the valuable (fantasy wise) starting tight end job under Chip Kelly in San Francisco.  After coming on nicely in the second half of 2015, he demonstrated just how big, fast and elusive he is on his 40-yard touchdown play in the 49er’s first preseason game.  I am targeting McDonald as a backup tight end in many of my drafts this year as it would not completely surprise me to see him end up as a top 10 fantasy TE serving as one of few dependable receiving options for the subpar QBs in San Francisco.

 

 

Next Week’s Guest….the 5th Down FF’s Johnny Slokes

 

1ST AND 10 WEEK 23 WITH LWOS’ MIKE RANDLE
 1ST AND 10 WEEK 22 WITH THE FFCOUCHCOACH
1ST AND 10 WEEK 21 WITH THE FANTASY FOOTBALL GEEK
1st AND 10 WEEK 20 WITH DFF’s MICHAEL HUGHES
1ST AND 10 WEEK 19 WITH FANTAYIPA’s ARTHUR RICHARDSON
1ST AND 10 WEEK 18 WITH QUESTFFL’s MATT DOUGHERTY
1ST AND 10 Week 17 WITH TFA’S JENNIFER SMITH
1ST AND 10 WEEK 16 WITH RTFANTASYSPORTS
1st AND 10 Week 15 with Eric dewalt
1st AND 10 Week 14 With Jamie Black
1ST AND 10 WEEK 13 WITH DFF’s MICHAEL HUGHES

1st and 10 Week 19

1st and 10 Week 19 by Utter-Fantasy Football Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

“1st and 10″ is a weekly segment by Utter-Fantasy.com, getting fantasy football insights from a knowledgeable person in the fantastic fantasy football community. With 10 questions each week, we will canvass some of the hot button topics to keep us all informed on the ever-changing NFL landscape and which ones might carry major fantasy football implications.

Every Monday, at approximately 12:00 Noon Central, I will post the latest segment of “1st & 10.”  If you enjoy it, let us know. If you have any fantasy football questions, really let us know.

 

1st and 10 Week 19-  July 25th, 2016

“1st and 10″ Week 19 -Special Guest Writer: Arthur Richardson…Co-Owner of Fantasyipa.com.

Special thanks to Arthur – Be sure to follow him on Twitter @Fantasy_IPA

 

Utter-Fantasy #1)  In 2015, the Jacksonville Jaguars had the 6th worst defense in the NFL. In the 2016 NFL Draft, they selected 4 defensive players and signed DE Malik Jackson, FS Tashaun Gipson, and CB Prince Amukamara. Are they automatically a better defense starting 2016, or will this side of the team take time to jell and have to prove that they are an improved defense?

FantasyIPA’s Arthur Richardson: I think that the influx of talent (including a rookie class full of upside) and it being Bradley’s 4th year with the team, that it can only mean positive things for the Jaguars.  It may take a couple of games, but I really see the Jags as having a chance to ascend at least to the upper half of defenses if not higher.  While there will be some time needed to establish chemistry (and health will play a big factor)… I do point to the Jaguars as the team most likely take the biggest leap as a defense in 2016.  So yes, I am on board with a big year from the Jags Defense and am even grabbing them as a flyer DST2 in Best Ball leagues.

 

Utter-Fantasy #2) If you could ask RB Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, and/or Jim Brown a question, what would it be?

FantasyIPA’s Arthur Richardson: I would ask Barry Sanders about his true passions or lack thereof as it pertains to the NFL.  I find it amazing that one of the most talented players in history would be willing to give up Professional Football early, in that sense… I often wonder what it is that he is passionate about and/or what took his passion away from the NFL.

I would ask Walter Payton how it felt to become the all-time leader in rushing and compare/contrast with his accomplishments as a family man.  He’s one of my favorite players of all time and it’s really nice to know he was charitable and grounded with strong family roots.

Jim Brown is tough because he has played football, been a political voice and has also had a lot of Hollywood moments…. literally.  I would give him an open forum to discuss whatever he wanted and see where he took it!!

 

Utter-Fantasy #3) TE Ben Watson is in nearly every top 12 statistical category for 2015 tight ends. I realize that the Baltimore TE depth chart is crowded, but he is currently on top of it, and yet Watson’s ADP isn’t even in the top 20. Are fantasy football owners sleeping on a possible sleeper?

FantasyIPA’s Arthur Richardson: I think we could be sleeping, but looking at the tight ends going ahead of him, I can only see 2-3 that I “might” question.  So I think he may be right where he should be as far as ADP, given the lack of a track record beyond Brees and the TE friendly offense in New Orleans. More importantly the extremely muddled offensive situations that are not only around the Tight ends but the running backs and wide receivers in Baltimore.  While I wouldn’t be surprised if he outperforms his ADP, I am not really targeting him.

 

Utter-Fantasy #4)  New HOU QB Brock Osweiler- I want you to play both optimist and pessimist. Tell me why QB Osweiler will have a great season in 2016, and tell me why QB Osweiler will have a bad season in 2016.

FantasyIPA’s Arthur Richardson:  Optimist– **“Brock can throw 70 yards on his back”.  I am pretty big on infrastructure and think that Bill O’brien and his system could be a great combination for any young quarterback.  Houston made a sizable investment to bring in an unproven, if not slightly proven commodity in Osweiler.  He will be given every opportunity to succeed and will definitely have the backing of the front office.
**Quote: Doug Bowles-Fantasy IPA Podcast 2016

Pessimist– While Brock Osweiler has the physical tools to become a great QB, my biggest concern is whether he has the mental side of the game down.   The “Belichick/Patriots” offensive scheme which O’brien is implementing in Houston has been known to render physical talents into bench players that could not pick up it up. Couple that with the fact that Osweiler is in a new system, that he has not had long stretches in production and that he had a propensity to hold onto the ball too long raises red flags for me.  It could take “a while” for this offense to become second nature and in today’s NFL we do not always have “a while”.

 

Utter-Fantasy #5) In 2015, RB LeSean McCoy dominated the Buffalo backfield with 1187 total yards, but he did not dominate in touchdowns for a Buffalo running back. RB Karlos Williams got that honor with 9 TDs ( McCoy 5 TDs). Williams also had 613 total yards to go with his TDs, and was the #32 RB for 2015. With McCoy one year older, can you see one of the other Buffalo running backs  dominating the Buffalo backfield in 2016 in both total yards and touchdowns?

FantasyIPA’s Arthur Richardson: I definitely don’t see Williams dominating Buffalo’s backfield, especially after recent struggles with weight and more importantly the 4 game suspension.  I still see Shady Mccoy as being the clear cut feature back in this offense for 2016 regardless of Williams’ status.  I think the main question now would be who is next in line.  Mike Gillislee actually showed very well in spot duty last season and the Rookie Jonathan Williams could factor in.  If I am drafting today, I would grab Gillislee as the handcuff, but would monitor the Rookie’s performance and be on the lookout for Buffalo to bring in a veteran.

 

Utter-Fantasy #6) Despite his post-season heroics ( 7 for 145 yards and 2 Tds in the 2015 Divisional Round game vs Arizona)…GB WR Jeff Janis is getting very little love from the fantasy football community, in ADP and in mock drafts. Considering the Packers high octane offense, and GB WR Davante Adams propensity to drop passes, why aren’t  fantasy football owners believers in Janis?

FantasyIPA’s Arthur Richardson: Well there are multiple things keeping Owners apprehensive
·         Owners have been swinging and missing on Janis for a couple of years now
·         Very small sample size of productive games
·         Very crowded receiving corps in Green Bay
·         Repeated reports of inconsistency and inability to pick up the mental side of the game

With all of these issues it makes sense that Janis’ ADP is pretty low.  I tend to own him in quite a few leagues at his current price.  So while I understand the reasons for his ADP, mark me down as someone targeting him at that price and hoping for a 4th year emergence ala Jordy Nelson!

 

Utter-Fantasy #7) Every year the NFL talks about reducing the number of preseason games (4) for a multiple of reasons, but apparently the owners are making too much money on them to ever move forward with the change. Do you think the NFL should reduce the number of preseason games to 3?

FantasyIPA’s Arthur Richardson: I don’t really think that they should change the preseason format. I know that some of the games do not feature much playing time from the starters, but that will also be shaken up if we drop a game. I do, however, think that the general public is right that the money is a main driver.  From a coaching perspective, I  imagine it is beneficial to see all 4 preseason games to aid them in choosing the correct players to roster. Each game translates to things like game prep, practice reps, wider outcomes based on opponents….. From a consumer point, I think 1 less game would be fine, but from a global perspective I think the current format is fine.

 

Utter-Fantasy #8) 2015 Post Season Conference Games- Denver beat New England 20-18. Carolina whipped Arizona 40-14, sending them to Super Bowl vs Denver. The Broncos won SB 50 24-10. What surprised you most about how all this played out?

FantasyIPA’s Arthur Richardson: On an overall scale, I don’t think I was really too surprised.  I have heard as long as I can remember that “Defense Wins Championships”.  And this was just another example of that adage being proved out.  If I was surprised by anything it was just how dominant the pass rush from the Broncos was and how it not only physically put a stamp on the game, but mentally seemed to always have the Broncos in the driver’s seat.  I think the secondary deserves a ton of credit as well.  If you can get to Brady as often as they did, your secondary has to reduce the opportunities in a quick strike horizontal offense. I think the Pass Rush will always be remembered, but the Defense as a whole was pretty unbelievable for the eventual Champs.

 

Utter-Fantasy #9) Only 4 tight ends had 1000+ receiving yards in 2016. Only 3 had double digit touchdowns and of the top 38 tight ends from 2015, 23 had 3 or less TD receptions. Why is it taking so long for NFL teams to discover the tight end as an offensive weapon, like New England and Carolina for example, have done for years?  ( TE Darren Fells lead Arizona tight ends with ONLY 311 receiving yards in 2015!)

FantasyIPA’s Arthur Richardson: I agree that many NFL teams have been slow to utlilize their tight end as an offensive weapon, like Arizona which you pointed out. I think there a few reasons for this. 1) Not every team has an incredible athlete at the position that can be a large, quick dependable target over the middle making contested catches, like the Pats and Panthers have. 2) It’s depends on what the head coach and offensive coordinator are comfortable with calling….i.e. preferring the way that receivers can separate, leading to more uncontested catches and which theoretically should result in more success. 3) By the very nature/definition of the TE position, they are much more relied on as a blocker.

 

Utter-Fantasy #10) ( The following question happened last year to a friend of mine in one of our leagues, so I wanted to ask you) ….Have you ever thought after a fantasy football draft, that yours was the worst team, only to have it win everything?

FantasyIPA’s Arthur Richardson: I have definitely come out of a draft feeling like it was a terrible draft only to field a very good team that year.  I would also say that the other side has happened…coming out of a draft where you love your team and it ends up bombing.  The main takeaway is that there are many different factors that go into Fantasy production and you have to be nimble.  Injury, under the radar emergence, suspensions…..are all things that change player value, you have to be on your toes and ready to react.  Fantasy Football is a week to week game.

I preach max effort no matter what state your team is in.  Drafting is important but waivers, trades, starting the right players are just a few other  factors that will determine success or failure.  “All you have to do is get to the dance, once in, anything can happen!”

 

Next Week’s Guest….1st and 10 alum DFF’s Michael Hughes

1ST AND 10 WEEK 18 WITH QUESTFFL’s MATT DOUGHERTY
1ST AND 10 Week 17 WITH TFA’S JENNIFER SMITH
1ST AND 10 WEEK 16 WITH RTFANTASYSPORTS
1st AND 10 Week 15 with Eric dewalt
1st AND 10 Week 14 With Jamie Black
1ST AND 10 WEEK 13 WITH DFF’s MICHAEL HUGHES

 

1st and 10 Week 14

1st and 10 Week 14 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

“1st and 10″ is a weekly segment by Utter-Fantasy.com, getting fantasy insights from a knowledgeable person in the fantastic fantasy football community. With 10 questions each week, we will canvass some of the hot button topics to keep us all informed on the ever-changing NFL landscape and which may carry major fantasy football implications.

On Monday afternoon, approximately 2:00 PM Central, I will post the latest segment in “1st & 10.”  If you enjoy it, let us know. If you have any fantasy football questions, really let us know.

 

Week 14-  June 20th, 2016

“1st and 10″ Week 14 Special Guest Writer-Co-Owner of Fantasyipa.com Jamey Black- Be sure to follow Jamie on Twitter @FIPA_Black

 

Utter-Fantasy #1)  Wade Phillips is currently the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos, but he has been the head coach of 3 different NFL teams. ( 4 NFL teams, if you count his short interim head coaching position in 2013 for the Houston Texans).The Denver Broncos (1993 to 1994), the Buffalo Bills (1998–2000) and the Dallas Cowboys (2007–2010). As Denver’s 2015 defensive coordinator, the only thing Phillips did was form the #1 defense in all of the NFL, and help win Super Bowl 50 with that defense. Will Wade be a head coach in 2017?

Jamie Black Response: No, I really don’t think so. We’ve seen enough of Wade Phillips to know what he is and what he isn’t. He is a great defensive coordinator and an average head coach. Everyone loves him, his players, ex-players, fellow coaches…they all love him. He’s been described as “sweet” and as a guy “without a mean bone in his body”. And that’s problem; head coaches need a kind of swagger or charisma that, at the very least invokes a healthy respect from others. I don’t think one needs to have a “mean streak” or scare players to be a good head coach. A more balanced characteristic that you see in successful head coaches is the ability to invoke a certain “healthy fear” that keeps players in line and sends the message that this is a guy who isn’t going to put up with any BS. Tony Dungy for example, you never saw him screaming at his players but he did demand a certain discipline and respect. Bill Belichick is similar in that regard and he will cut anyone who doesn’t fall in line. Maybe I’m a little bitter living in Dallas and watching the 2007 season unfold. The Cowboys finished 13-3 and went 3-0 against the two teams who eventually met in the NFC Championship Game that post-season, and won all 3 games by double-digits only to get bounced (coming off a bye) in round 2 by the Giants. You want to know what I remember most though…the relaxed approach the Cowboys took during their 1st round bye week. I mean, Tony Romo went on vacation to Cabo with Jessica Simpson! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

Make no mistake; Wade is a great defensive coordinator and Denver no doubt owes much their Super Bowl 50 success to the defense he put out on the field. I just don’t think he has the temperament to have sustained success as a head coach in the NFL.

 

Utter-Fantasy #2) On June 1st, 2016, LA HC Jeff Fisher said that he thinks wide receiver “Tavon Austin can catch 100 passes this season”. In 2015, Austin rushed as many times as he had receptions ( both 52). If Fisher is correct, then Austin is either going to get 50% more touches in 2016, or the Rams are going to scale back dramatically the number of times Austin runs the ball. Which is likely to be the case?

Jamie Black Response: Neither, I don’t think the Rams can quit handing the ball to Austin, considering the success they’ve had doing so. Also, Austin is not a possession receiver and I don’t see him approaching 100 receptions, not even close. In fact, the Rams have two rookie receivers that I see offering more as possession receivers than Austin (Pharoh Cooper and Mike Thomas). Also, Fisher hasn’t had a receiver catch 70+ in 12 years. I think  Fisher is being overly optimistic, but more than that, I think he is publicly supporting their moving up to draft Goff. Considering all that the Rams had to give up to get Goff, Fisher is probably attempting to imply that they won’t be scared to throw the ball this year.

 

Utter-Fantasy #3) What will the acquisition of rookie WR Will Fuller do for WR DeAndre Hopkin’s 2016 season, and where do you see Fuller ranking for NFL wide outs at the end of the upcoming season?

Jamie Black Response: Fuller will help both Hopkins and what Bill O’Brien wants to do on offense, which is to run the ball and throw it to Hopkins. Fuller has game-changing speed and defenses will have to account for that. He should take the top off of opposing D’s and further open up the underneath stuff for Hopkins and the running game…and the TEs if they decide to get them involved. Regarding Fuller’s production, I think he will be a better role player/NFL receiver than fantasy receiver. I do think he will score some long TDs which could mean a few big games. I can see him having seasons where he averages 18+ yards per reception, but I don’t see him being targeted a lot, just enough to keep defenses honest. I’d be surprised if he catches more than 45 passes and 4-5 TD’s his rookie year. He will probably rank out as a WR-5 and not worth redraft consideration. I think he could be a decent late round best ball (MFL10) flyer at WR, but I don’t see him being consistent enough to start on a weekly basis in most fantasy formats, at least not for now.

 

Utter-Fantasy #4)  Who are the 2 best head coaches currently in the NFL, and who are the 2 worst?

Jamie Black Response: I think everyone agrees Bill Belichick is easily the best current NFL head coach and is certainly in the conversation for best coach of all time. I would say the 2nd best current coach in the NFL is probably Pete Carroll, who coincidentally was replaced by Belichick as the Patriots head coach following the 1999 season.

Choosing the 2 worst coaches in the NFL is a bit more difficult. I’m going to say one of the worst current NFL head coaches is Mike Mularkey. That may not be fair because I’m judging him by what he did in Buffalo and Jacksonville, along with the 9 games last year as the interim head coach of the Titans after taking over for Whisenhunt. His winning percentage as an NFL head coach (right around 30% I believe) has to be considered though. With that said, the Titans did well in this year’s draft and in the offseason, and are possibly on the verge of being a team on the rise, so Mularkey’s arrow is probably pointing up going into this season. I don’t want to list any of the 1st-year coaches here, so with that in mind, I will say Gus Bradley is currently one of the worst 2 coaches in the NFL. In 3 seasons with Jacksonville, they haven’t really improved as a team and haven’t finished a season with more than 5 wins, in large part because of the defensive which is what he was brought in to fix. They have no doubt turned a corner on the offensive side of the ball and seemingly have put together a very impressive offseason and draft in which they addressed many of their defensive needs. Some of the names they’ve added on defense: DL Malik Jackson, S Tashaun Gipson, CB Jalen Ramsey and OLB Myles Jack…among others. They have the pieces in place now and I really think this is a make or break season for Bradley. Jacksonville is one of the teams I see taking a leap this year, so I absolutely do not expect to see Gus Bradley’s name on this list next year.

 

Utter-Fantasy #5) What player, over the past 2 years, has surprised you most with is lack of production and lack of success in the NFL?

Jamie Black Response: A lot of guys come to mind…Jadeveon Clowney is a big one, although he has been injured. Johnny Manziel is another one, but I’m not sure I am too surprised there. When you say “surprised”, I think of someone who I’ve seen have success at the NFL level…so RGIII is that guy for me. I am very surprised with his lack of success over the past 2-3 seasons. Here is a guy who was hyped up so much coming out of college, he seemingly handled it well, he was drafted #2 overall, he lead his team to a division title for the first time in 13 years as a rookie…finishing that season on a 7 game winning streak, and finally tops it off by besting Andrew Luck for the 2012 offensive rookie of the year honors. I expected a lot more from him in the years that followed, in the NFL and definitely from a fantasy perspective. He rushed for over 800 yards and 7-TDs his rookie year, becoming only the 2nd time in NFL history that a QB had 3,000+ passing yards and 800+ rushing yards (1st time by Randall Cunningham 1990, later (2014) by Russell Wilson). Maybe he resurrects his career in Cleveland, I really don’t know, but his fall was very much unexpected for me.

 

Utter-Fantasy #6)  What NFL team could take a giant leap in their division, if they had one or two great players added to their current roster?

Jamie Black Response: The Oakland Raiders. I think they did a good job adding players like OL-Kelechi Osemele, CB-Sean Smith and LB-Bruce Irvin. Retaining S-Nate Allen and OLB-Aldon Smith was vital as well and they started their draft by grabbing 3 more defensive prospects. I think Derek Carr is the real deal and Amari Cooper should step up again and produce like a true #1 WR. If they were to improve on defense by adding an every down pass rusher and/or if they had a true, every down stud at running back, they would probably be one of the best teams in the NFL. I think they are going to get there regardless. They have the offensive line and have added prospects, and even with minor improvement they should be contenders in their division, perhaps even this year, but unquestionably in a year or two.

 

Utter-Fantasy #7) On August 7, 2010, Emmitt Smith thanked his fullback Daryl “Moose” Johnston during his Hall of Fame Induction speech in Canton, Ohio, for helping to pave Smith’s way to the Hall of Fame. Smith was not the most gifted running back in the NFL and credits his durability and Johnston to his success. The fullback’s role is to block for the lead tailback, but it also includes power running and blocking for the quarterback, which has never been more important in the NFL. Should NFL team’s revisit the use of the fullback position?

Jamie Black Response: I can certainly attest to what Emmitt Smith said about Daryl Johnston, I can honestly say growing up in Dallas during those Super Bowl years was fun, exciting, and I don’t think I missed one game. Today’s NFL is so different though, the pace is faster, it’s more wide open and other than the quarterback, the receivers are the stars of many NFL offenses. I really don’t remember there ever being a time with so much talent at WR in the NFL, so teams have to get their playmakers on the field. With that said, there is definitely a place for the fullback and a power running game. As defenses change and adjust to wide open offenses, I think offenses could benefit from using a fullback and being able to run the ball 40+ times a game when needed.

To answer the question more directly, yes, I think teams should revisit the use of the fullback position…just maybe not to the extent fullbacks were used 20+ years ago. The Patriots are a team that I think of when I mention this. They might throw the ball 60 times for 4 TDs one week and then run it 50 times for 4 TDs the next. Having the ability to game-plan a power running scheme (using a fullback) on offense is something every team should at least attempt to revisit.

 

Utter-Fantasy #8) Who would you rather NOT owe a lot of money to…..CINN LB Vontaze Burfict, PITT LB James Harrison or MIA DT Ndamukong Suh?

Jamie Black Response: Obviously I wouldn’t want to owe any of these three players any money, because they are all known to be mean and even dirty players. ( I can’t turn out good for me regardless!) However, if I am being forced to pick one, I’ll go with MIA DT Ndamukong Suh, who signed that huge 6 year contract last season  worth $114,375,000 with the Miami Dolphins, including a $25,500,000 signing bonus, $59,955,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $19,062,500. Perhaps with all this money, he will be less likely to get mean and dirty with me, trying to get what I apparently own him!

 

Utter-Fantasy #9) In 2015, a few of my fantasy football leagues changed the rules on scoring field goals, due to the rate at which place kickers are now successfully kicking them from long distances. Did any of your league adjust place kicker scoring, and will we see a record breaking 70 yard field goal in the near future?

Jamie Black Response: Sure did, last year in one of the contract leagues I am in, we dinged kickers (-1) point for missed XPs, but we only dinged kickers for missed FGs under 30 yards. Since the XP was moved out beyond 30 yards, we simply quit taking a point away from kickers for missed PATs. There are a few other leagues I am in where we started awarding FG points based on distance (ie – 38 yard FG was awarded 3.8 points). Regarding a 70 yard field goal, I don’t know if that will happen anytime soon. It took 43 years to break Dempsey’s record of 63 yards (Matt Prater, 2013 – 64 yards). I know when they could use a tee in the NCAA there were a few long field goals approaching 70 yards, but unless a kicker is kicking off a tee, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

 

Utter-Fantasy #10) Dallas’ RB Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott, CLEV WR Corey Coleman and NYG Sterling Shepard are all obvious targets for fantasy owners in every draft this year. Who are 3 offensive sleepers from this year’s NFL Draft?

Jamie Black Response: Well, I actually wrote a piece about CJ Prosise back in the beginning of May basically touting him as a mid-1st round pick in rookie drafts, and he is definitely a guy that is not necessarily on everyone’s radar. Those playing in dynasty leagues are certainly well aware of Prosise by now, but for those who only play in redraft leagues, this is a guy who might be flying under the radar. He has every down running back potential and will enter the 2016 season with a defined role as the 3rd down RB in Seattle, and since the Seahawks are being quiet about Thomas Rawls and his ankle, there is no guarantee he will be ready Week 1. I can see Prosise as a less dynamic version of David Johnson type. He is someone to keep an eye on and who certainly should be owned in all dynasty and keeper formats.

Another one is Jordan Howard, rookie RB in Chicago. I also like him in the1st round of rookie drafts and one of my partners in crime at Fantasy IPA has been all over him since day 1. He definitely has a chance to carve out a role in Chicago as a rookie (John Fox has always used two RBs). I know Fox doesn’t generally trust rookies, but I feel this is an exception.

I want to get into a couple of guys who probably aren’t top 20 offensive rookie picks for fantasy purposes. I’ll start with a teammate of Corey Coleman’s and fellow Browns rookie WR Rashard Higgins. I would say to anyone in redraft leagues, I wouldn’t draft Higgins; he is more of a developmental guy for dynasty leagues. There is a lot I like about him and we have hit on that in a few of our podcasts at Fantasy IPA.

I’ll give one more name as a deep sleeper, TE Austin Hooper. There are a lot of things to like about him, the fact that he can block and catch, has very long arms and big hands; he is very fast for his size and he should be given the opportunity to get on the field a lot this year in Atlanta. I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes a red-zone weapon for the Falcons from day 1. He obviously is not Tony Gonzalez, but he could be the answer the Falcons have been looking for since Gonzalez retired.

Next week Utter-Fantasy will have 10 new questions to another knowledgeable person from our fantasy football community.